I am a divorced man, now remarried.

Life

I am a divorced man, now remarried. There, I just said it out loud.

Not really.

But when you type something in a public setting, it’s pretty much the same thing, right? The people who you are afraid to offend, the people who you want to have a good impression of you, are not always those in your vicinity any longer, but those connected to you online. I’m not so sure this is a good thing.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t make connections online. Of course we should! But the real connections that will have a lasting impact on each other are best done face to face. There are some who I have known for a decade through my blog who have influenced me for the better, but none of these people have had as deep an impact as the man who I have met for coffee every Friday morning for three years.

Matthew 28:18
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Our primary mission as followers of Jesus is to live out the Great Commission. As we’re doing so, we are to take care of the widows and orphans and love one another, but the underlying instruction given to us by our king is laid out for us clearly. It is a mission that can be discussed and supported online, sure, but it still requires us to GO!

We go to make disciples of all nations, rather than just set up a website and hope they stumble upon it. We go to baptize those who become disciples. We go to teach these disciples all that Jesus has commanded. And as we go, Jesus remains with us always.

My blog has been in disrepair for several years. I am OK with that. I make no promises of regular updates in the future. I hope you are OK with that. I hope to nurture my relationships I have with those I know through online sources as we encourage each other to GO into our communities and beyond. And if we cannot go beyond, let us encourage each other to support those who can.

And above all, remember that the person across from you, the one who can look you in the eye, is in a more God-honoring position to sharpen you even as you sharpen them.

Testing out a new plugin

Life

I found a plugin that will let me originate content on Google+ (or YouTube) and carry that content over to my home blog. (www.coffeeswirls.com).

Imports your public Google+ activities in your WordPress blog.

My Contact Info on Social Media

Life

Ranked in order of awesomeness.

  1. My Google+ Profile
  2. My Google+ Page for CoffeeSwirls I’m working toward making this the new site for by blog, but Google+ isn’t designed to be blogging software per se. At least not with the bells and whistles you’d expect from a blogging platform.
  3. My Church’s Google+ Page, which I am humbled to be allowed to administer.
  4. Orcut? Never used it.
  5. Pinterest? It was a moment of weakness.
  6. Facebook? Don’t get me started. If you really want to stalk me, I guess you can do it here. But my FB profile is full of stupid pictures and unanswered game requests.
  7. Twitter is dead to me.

 

Website Changes Coming Soon

Life

Note: This post is lengthy. I also think it is worth reading.  I’m the author, so take that with a grain of salt.

So this blog never really got back up off the ground. After a cursory glance, you might assume that Doug has just fallen off the face of the earth. Or that he has forgotten how to write. Or that he has become antisocial. Or… well, you can fill in the blank.

Truth be told, I’m writing as much as I ever have. No, that’s a lie. I used to be on a frantic pace back in the day. I haven’t, and I couldn’t match that pace again. And therein lies my problem. If I can’t bring CoffeeSwirls back to it’s former glory, what’s the point?

I am still writing, socializing, thinking… But I am doing it outside of this blog. When I first started blogging, there was no Facebook or MySpace, and Google was just one of several search engines. There was no iPhone and apps were what you gave to employers if you were looking for a job. My cell phone did have the game “Snake” however, and I was hooked on it.

If you wanted to be social online, you either got your own website or you got on the news feeds, or whatever those archaic things were called. And once you had a website, you needed some way to add content. Creating HTML files on a daily basis sucked, so like many others, I found blogging software and tried it out. I added an e-mail newsletter and I figured I had my bases pretty much covered.

I would post on my blog and comment on other people’s blogs. We had blogrolls and bloglines. We linked to each other. It was social media. It worked for us. When MySpace came out, I didn’t even bother because the blogosphere was good enough for me.

Facebook came out and people started moving to that. I would get an almost daily request from this or that person to join and I eventually did. The games on Facebook are better than “Snake” on my old Nokia phone, by the way. Then came Twitter, and I eventually gave that a try as well. I’m still not much of a fan, to be honest. But Twitter does have it’s uses.

If you look for me now on Facebook, you’ll see mostly stupid pictures and some content that is carried over from Google+. If you find me on Twitter, you’ll see some leftover spam from when I was last hacked. I’m not that motivated to reactivate the Twitter stream. It doesn’t add anything to my life. If you find me on Google+ though, there is quite a bit of content. Some of it silly. Some of it thought out. All of it me. And the more I get to know about my friends inside Google+, the more categories of Doug are opened to them. Because Google+ is built around shared interests with a wider variety of people rather than pre-existing relationships.

Google+ is built around shared interests rather than pre-existing relationships.

Google+ is only a ghost town to the people who refuse to engage with it. Kinda like how Facebook was a ghost town when you first joined and hadn’t accepted any friend requests yet. Any social medium is what you make of it. So people who say that Google+ is a waste of time and energy aren’t saying a thing about G+ but are saying a lot about their knowledge of the intent behind how G+ is built.

While I’m happy with the people in my Facebook existing friend list, I am also expanding my list of friends based around people with interests similar to my own, not just historical markers similar to my own.

Recently, Lifehacker.com took a poll from their readers where they asked What’s Your Social Network of Choice? At the time I’m writing this, Google+ has over 60% of the vote and Facebook has under 15%. And most of these votes were cast while Lifehacker was stacking the deck in favor of Facebook and Twitter, which has since been changed. But if you read through the comments you’ll see something very interesting. 

Nobody defends Facebook by saying that they enjoy using Facebook. Not a one. They say that their family and their old high school friends are on Facebook so they have no choice but to be on there as well. People remain on Facebook out of some misguided sense of social necessity even though most of them do not enjoy Facebook.

Sure, Facebook has games to play. I used to play them too. I also used to play “Snake” on my phone. Have I mentioned that before?

So this blog is stage 1. Facebook was a sort of stage 2. Google+ is stage 3. And I’m not naive enough to think there won’t ever be a stage 4. But for now, I am ENJOYING the social content on Google+. What does this all mean?

  1. The content from this blog has already been reproduced at a free service for the purpose of storing it as my archives. I do have a lot of history here.
  2. In the near future, I intend to change the path of my URL (coffeeswirls.com) to my Google+ profile, making that the new generation of CoffeeSwirls. In my profile, I would also include a link to my archives.
  3. If you are my Facebook friend, you will continue to see some of my G+ posts carried over to FB as the bulk of my content. And I’ll likely continue to put up a silly picture from time to time on FB. But I don’t plan to check FB for comments or mentions more than on a daily basis.
  4. My current RSS address will be broken by this move. Unfortunately, G+ currently has RSS feeds for public posts, not for subcategories. My FB posts from G+ are what that feed would contain and I will give that address out to anyone who asks.
  5.  In my subcategories, I talk about Christianity, The Walking Dead, the game of Ingress, fun things to do in Iowa, Healthy Eating (stop laughing), Bodyweight Exercises, the Android operating system, motorcycling, the Green Bay Packers (and the other 31 teams who wish they were the Packers), Politics, Food and Beer and a few other niche topics. Each one has it’s own circle. And I add people to circles as I discover the shared interest. I also create more circles as more interests develop. Like BBQ cooking, my most recent circle.
  6. This is a change from what I have been doing for several months only by my intent to change the URL to point to G+. That’s really it. But I enjoy interacting on G+ and have more friends there than on FB. And none of my friends on G+ are there because I have some obligation to be their friend.
  7. This does not mean that I am your friend just out of some misguided obligation.
  8. Unless you’re Facebook stalking me.
  9. In which case, I would be just a little creeped out.
  10. Or possibly flattered.

So all this to say that not a whole lot will change. But me getting rid of my webhost and just having the URL redirect to Google+ is a big step for me. It’s a big step for my branding. I’ve had the same host for a decade. Wow, a decade. But my social network has changed from the blogosphere to Facebook and Google+. And out of the remaining networks, I prefer Google+. And I think you will also.

Defending our Pooping Areas

Life

I went for a walk today. On my way back, I passed a home that had a small fenced in area for their dog. It had to be just for the dog, because it was too small for any other use. So it was a small dog pooping area.

As I walked by, the dog inside the fence let me know that that was his area and that the sidewalk I was on was taking me way to close to his pooping area and if I were to try to enter his territory, there would be serious repercussions.

I crouched down at the fence and put my hand toward him so he could smell me. He sniffed and howled at me again. So I told him he was doing a fine job defending his poop (dog’s can understand people, they just can’t talk) and walked along my merry way back home.

Then I thought, how am I savagely defending small, confined, restrictive, poop-filled areas in my life? So I ask you that question also. What areas in your life do you defend when you really ought to chuckle and just jump the fence into the freedom of the sidewalk?

The Minnesota State Fair

Life

Let me begin by saying I am an Iowan. I like Iowa. I understand Iowa. The Iowan traditions are familiar and comforting to me. We ask kids to tell a joke before they get candy when trick or treating. We don’t allow the good fireworks, but the cops (mostly) know to look the other way the weekend of July 4.

And we have the state fair by which all other fairs can be judged. There, I said it.

I got into a facebook discussion with one of my sister’s friends named Gianna after the Iowa State Fair had concluded. Apparently, she took offense to something I said about how the Iowa State Fair is far superior to all other fairs as if that just isn’t factual. I understood her local blinders about how great the Minnesota State Fair is in her eyes and got to wonder if maybe I have similar blinders about the Iowa State Fair. So I visited my sister over the Labor Day weekend and visited the Minnesota State Fair for one day.

One day is not enough time to give any fair a proper evaluation. But one day is really what I had available to me. My sister and her husband have four kids, ages nine months to eight years. They were real troopers for the one full day we spent, but asking them to do a second day would be pushing it.

The Minnesota grounds are pretty flat. The Iowa State Fair features a hill that can be a bit challenging for some, but the hill adds character to the fair. And there are rewards for climbing the hill, whether you want to sample some new dairy products, catch a great interactive kids show, stomp some grapes into wine or just find a great deal on lemonade. A flat fair is outside of my definition of what the fair should be, so I’ll accept this as a preference based on familiarity.

Both fairs have a ride called “Ye Old Mill.” Its hook my confidence a bit when I saw that the ride is essentially identical from one fair to the other. And from what research I have done, it appears that Minnesota had their ride first. So I must give a point to our neighbors to the north.

The Minnesota State Fair also has a permanent structure haunted house. “Seems a bit early in the year for that,” said the sensible Iowan.

There are food stands throughout the Minnesota fairgrounds, but the center of the food is essentially a giant food court. Lots of fish items are served. We shared an order of “Smelt,” which tastes better than it sounds. In the food stands, I got a sense that this fair is all about Minnesota while the food stands in Iowa are all about Iowa. Sure, you can get a corn dog at both fairs, but the differing items are where the state shines through. And because of this, it is difficult to declare a winner.

I expected much better stages in the Minnesota fair. In Iowa, you can walk around and visit several stages capable of holding hundreds of people to see a free music show or talent contest. I didn’t see that in Minnesota.

The Iowa State Fair is much better organized. We have buildings and areas on the grounds for certain types of attractions. The Minnesota State Fair appeared to have a more haphazard method of “first come first served” when deciding where to place things. It was like visiting a town that didn’t have any zoning. If you want to see the items you can only buy at the fair, I can name about four buildings where you might find it. If you want information about a local college, the Education Building is a great place to start, but your search may take you elsewhere. This could be another familiarity issue, but I don’t think so.

So Gianna and I have contemplated a challenge next year. She will visit the Iowa State Fair and I will visit the Minnesota State Fair. I’m thinking we can make categories to judge one against the other. Food, People Watching, General Feel, Free Attractions, Butter Sculptures and so on. Maybe I will have recovered enough to compare the Ye Old Mills, but I don’t think a Haunted House category is suitable in August/September.